blessings, connections, coping, courage, death, eavesdropping, grief, healing, life, moments, strangers

Dilly dilly…

I took myself out for a quesadilla burger last night.  I’d been thinking about them for a week or two, and since burgers are the Monday special at Appleby’s, and I had stayed home and cleaned the house most of the day, and all the pots, pans, dishes, and silverware are at the mobile, it seemed like the thing to do.

The parking lot was quite full, so I hoped there would be a seat available at the bar, and there was.  It was empty actually, I was surprised.  And as I sat there enjoying my burger a mother and daughter came in and sat a little bit away from me at the bar.  I couldn’t help but hear their conversation and it became obvious that the daughter was there to support the mother who had just lost her husband.  It was a brand new situation for them, should she ‘have something’ here, or was it okay to just do it ‘back home’ was a topic.  The Mom and Dad had apparently frequented Appleby’s.  Mom said that if her Michael had seen that they had ordered breadsticks with Alfredo sauce he’d have shaken his head.  She told the bartender that she didn’t know if she could bring herself to come there without him, but she decided that she could do it while her daughter was with her this first time.  I related to them so much, to the two or three days that my son stayed with me in the aftermath of Charley’s death, until I kicked him out, sort of.  I felt connected to them, though they had no clue and we hadn’t spoken a word to each other.

And then it was time to leave.  I had switched to a bigger purse because I’m carrying more with me back and forth, and I love that purse but I can never find anything in it. Like my wallet, but it simply wasn’t there.  This had never happened to me before and I wondered why I wasn’t in a total panic, but I wasn’t, and I quietly (I thought) told the young gal who was bartending that I was embarrassed, and asked if I could give her a check.  She said no, it’s fine, just stop by another time and take care of it.  As I asked for the check I heard the mother say, “We’ll take care of it.”  I looked over and she was in tears.  She thanked me.  She said that her husband would have loved this, it was perfect, it was just the thing he loved to do.  And while this wasn’t my finest moment I felt so calm as I saw what this moment was for her.  I thanked them, hugged them, and told them that my son and I had spent this same time together four years ago.  And Mom thanked me again, said her husband would be so pleased with this, and asked that the next time I go out and have a drink, to please raise my glass to Michael and say, “Dilly dilly.”  And I will…

coping, death, growing old, losing battles, memories, moments, old dogs new tricks, photography, solitude

Resting places…

Duxbury Beach in Massachusetts features prominently in my fond memories of home.  Maybe it was that we used to stay at my uncle’s cottage, the last one on the seawall that defined the private beach from the public beach.  That it was rocky, especially after a storm, was a plus.  You could put your blanket out on the sand and scout out a few rocks to anchor down the corners.  My husband had heard me rave about it long before he ever saw it, and when I took him there it was after a storm and it was particularly rocky, and from the look in his eye I’m pretty sure he doubted my sanity after that.  Since then I have been to lovely beaches with expanses of sugar sand as far as the eye can see, but I will never feel about them the way I feel about Duxbury.  Which is why I told Charley that I wanted my ashes scattered at Duxbury when the time came.  My daughter heard that and said that I should be informing her of my wishes, and, as usual, she was right.  If I was ever going to change my mind about that then visiting a cemetery like this one is why I’ll let the decision stand.  Stones sinking into the ground, names and dates barely readable, and no one to care or remember.  Sadly, there was more than one ‘unknown’ marker.  A person, a life.  Someone’s child, possibly someone’s parent, gone except for that sad marker.  After being home alone for so long I’m finding that part of me now wants to get out, hit the road, go everywhere, see everything. But I tell myself I’m too old, I can’t do it alone.  Maybe so, maybe not.  But I like the idea that one day my ashes might ride the wind and the water, and travel farther than my dreams can take me now.  I’ll return to Duxbury one day…5-28cemeteryfence

5-28angelHDR5-28EffieHDR5-28Fred5-28twobytwo5-28cemeterytree5-28myunknownHDR.

coping, death, dogs, life goes on, loneliness, on closer examination, photography

Spinning my wheels…

For a very long time after Charley died I didn’t walk the dogs at all.  I was fearful that I wouldn’t be able to control them if they got upset over anything, and I thought that the net result would be that I would wind up getting hurt.  Neither dog is aggressive so I didn’t fear for anyone else, I just wondered what I’d do if I fell and broke my arm.  But as time has gone on I don’t think as much in terms of the alone-ness, I suppose it’s not the novelty it once was.  So I walk them now, once or twice a day, and I take for granted that they will behave.  We pass this yard on our route every day, and even after I posted a picture of the azaleas I have continued to take pictures because it amazes me every time I pass by.  This one (above) was taken last Friday and I think they were just about at their peak.  Now I see patches of only green where once the light pink flowers were.  I hate to see them go for another year, a reminder of time passing.

3-8whatsthat

Zoe tried to bring this home with her on our walk this morning…

3-8Ozzie

Taking off the closet doors so Ozzie could get under the desk more easily hasn’t done a thing for my leg room…

3-8bayport3-8libraryWhen I’m out with the camera I usually take a few shots with my iPhone also, but I don’t always remember to look at them.  Sometimes they are the best shots of all.

3-8salt

I was completely out of salt the other day, and it hit me that buying salt is one of those milestones that you could measure time by.  How many boxes of salt does a person buy in a lifetime?  I can’t remember the last time I bought some, I’m pretty sure I moved the same box of salt with me a few times.  Thinking about that brought to mind something a friend once told Charley.   He said, “Someday you’ll have a dog that outlives you.”  That thought stopped me in my tracks, even though I didn’t think for a minute that Zoe would be that dog.  For that reason I know that these are my last two dogs, and I’m assuming that I will outlive them.  But is this my last box of salt?

 

 

coping, death, dogs, finding my way, grief, healing, life goes on, loneliness, marriage, memories, photography

U R Making me Comfortable…

That Charley wasn’t always a dog lover would come as a surprise to most people who knew him when I knew him, but not to the people who knew him before he met me.  They knew he was a cat lover.  That I had a cockapoo was something to be tolerated, but I can’t say that he was enthused about having a dog in the house.  But Barney grew on him enough that when it was time that Barney had to be put down he initially refused to go with me, saying that he didn’t want to go down forever in family history as the guy who took the kids’s dog to be put to sleep. He must have felt sorry for me though, because he did go with me, and he stopped and bought Barney an ice cream cone on the way.

But while Barney was still with us Charley instigated that we acquire Nugget, saying, “My mother never let me have a puppy”.  He had bought me a necklace shortly before that, gold nuggets on a chain which I still wear every day.  He would say to me, very dramatically and with his eyebrows going up and down like Groucho Marx, “Hey Neem, how’s your Nuggets?”, which the kids found hilarious.  The innuendo wasn’t lost on them.  Neem was a pet hame, if I stop to explain this post will be a mile long.  So we were at the Mall and in the pet shop window was a litter of mixed breed puppies, and upon seen a golden one Heather declared, “Hey Neemie, it’s another Nugget!”  We had her 18 years, I could measure the length of my marriage in the ages of the dogs which populated it.

Last week or so I talked about Charley, memories which had come to me because of this ropeysaliva

picture.  I took this when I first got my iPhone 7+, practicing using portrait mode and capturing Ozzie’s drool.  But happening upon that picture reminded me of when I first met Charley when he joined the dental office where I was working as a hygienist.  He was a brand new dentist on his first job, but even though we were the same age my schooling was so much less that I had 10 years experience in dentistry and he would sometimes ask me my opinion on things.  That anyone would ask me my opinion on anything was quite flattering, but especially a dentist asking me my opinion concerning dentistry made me feel important.  He asked if I had a pet peeve in dentistry, and I did actually.  I told him that what drove me the most nuts was… ropey saliva!  It would wrap itself around the prophy cup when you were polishing teeth and go flying!  That cracked him right up.  He loved that answer.  I wonder if he married me because of ropey saliva.

So, the feature photo.  Charley had been in the hospital a week, and he had become so dependent on the oxygen mask that he was reluctant to take it off to talk, so he was writing messages on the clip board I brought for him.  He had been moved to the ICU the day before, and I had been told that visitors had to wait until 8 AM and that’s when I got there. The nurse told me that he was upset that I wasn’t there at my usual 6 AM or so, but when I did get there he wrote “U R Making me Comfortable”.  He really liked the Arnold Palmer iced tea/lemonade that I had been buying him at Duncan Donuts.  But when he wanted some he wrote Jack Palmer, I assume he was thinking of Jack Nicklas, when he wrote that and I was looking forward to teasing him about that when he felt better.  I never got the chance to do that.

So dogs and ropey saliva, Ozzie has it in spades.  Gleason could drool, but I think Ozzie has him beat.  I may not be cleaning teeth anymore, but I’m still dealing with ropey saliva.

bulldogfaceCruisin' DudesCharleyandOznuggetandnorts

blessings, childhood, connections, coping, death, family, finding my way, grief, healing, life, life goes on, marriage, memories

Lost and found…

I’ve been up since 2 AM, thinking. About a lot of things, but mostly about Charley. Thinking back to when I met him. I was talking with my aunt and uncle the other day and I told them that when I met Charley I had the most overwhelming sense of re-connecting to someone I already knew, someone I treasured and had lost track of. I had found someone who had been missing. And what popped out of my mouth next was something that hadn’t occurred to me in the entire 34 years we were married. That person was… me!

It was the Italian thing. Funny since Charley wasn’t Italian, but he may as well have been. His mother had been raised in an Italian neighborhood in Baltimore, and his step-father was Italian. The first place that we went together was an Italian deli in Baltimore, Trinacria’s, and when he opened the door and I walked in I was stopped in my tracks by the smell of the place. I had just walked into my grandmother’s kitchen, or so you’d think by the smell. That he ripped off the end of the loaf of Italian bread and handed it to me was such a familiar gesture. Something lost was found. I was whole again.

Thank you Charley…

coping, death, grief, healing, life, life goes on, memories, moments, photography, the easy way out

It’s about time…

I could have left well enough alone. Or done what I’ve done twice a year for the three years that Charley has resided in his urn. Which is a very nice clock. Of all the urns on the shelf from which to choose this was the one and only one I thought would do for him. And it has proven to be a good choice. It has given him a voice, sort of. It chimes at the perfect moments in conversations, or occasionally when I first walk in the door, so that the excited dogs and chiming urn make me feel welcomed.
I have no idea why I didn’t just do what I’ve always done, even though it’s a pain in the neck, and just roll the clock ahead one hour at a time, 23 times, to adjust for Daylight Savings time. You aren’t supposed to roll it backwards you see, and I always take cautions like that seriously. And since it only chimes from 6 AM until 10 PM you have to consider the entire 24 hours. No, my genius idea was to take the batteries out while I went to the Y to swim. When I put them back in a couple of hours later I figured I’d only have to adjust it ahead an hour and change. Ha! It went to 6 o’clock for some reason, and seems to want to chime two hours off of what the hands of the clock say.
So I need to find the little manual that came with the urn, which I’ve seen not too awfully long ago. Somewhere. Or, perhaps, I’ll just take the batteries out again and set the clock for 6 o’clock and put them back in. Maybe it will be right, or maybe it will be 12 hours off. Or maybe I’ll just forget about it and let Charley do his thing. He always did have to have things his way, eventually I learned that it was easier to just go along with him…

fullsizeoutput_216f